Sundance showcases film about Fuyao in 2019 lineup

Jan 28, 2019News

By Thomas Gnau, Staff Writer
Dayton Daily News

 

The makers of the successful HBO documentary “The Last Truck” have worked for several years on a new film about Fuyao Glass America — the company that revitalized the General Motors plant whose final days “The Last Truck” painstakingly explored.

Now, the new film about Fuyao will be part of the Sundance Film Festival’s 2019 documentary competition lineup.

“American Factory” by directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert will follow “a Chinese billionaire (who) opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America,” according to a description of the work in Variety magazine.

“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” was picked up by HBO Films and aired to wide acclaim in 2009. Yellow Springs independent filmmakers Reichert and Bognar followed the workers at GM’s SUV assembly plant in Moraine as the company announced plans to shutter the plant in 2008.

The filmmakers and their crew had access to the plant and its workers in the final months before the plant’s last day as a GM assembly operation, Dec. 23, 2008.

The Last Truck, released in 2009, was nominated for the Academy Award for “Best Documentary (short subject)” that year. (Another work, Music by Prudence, was the winner in the 2010 Academy Awards.)

More recently, Reichert, Bognar and their colleagues have spent the past several years documenting Fuyao’s emergence in the same plant.

Fuyao Global Chairman Cho Tak Wong bought the empty plant from a California developer in 2014 for $15 million. The film crew had access to players and workers inside and outside the plant as Fuyao dramatically restructured the facility and brought it back to a productive existence.

The Yellow Springs filmmakers were there as the United Auto Workers union failed in its bid to persuade workers to approve a new bargaining unit at Fuyao in late 2016. They were inside the plant as its first managers worked to hire workers and launch production of what Fuyao says today is the world’s largest auto glass production site.

Today, the plant has more than 2,000 workers.

Reichert, who is a three-time Oscar nominee, will be awarded the International Documentary Association’s Career Achievement Award for 2018 in Los Angeles next month.

Billed as the largest independent film festival in the United States, the Sundance Film Festival is shown annually in Park City, Utah.

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